Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009 ~ Hello 2010!

I can hardly believe that today is the last day of 2009!  This year has flown by.  The girls are all a year older (they just never seem to quit growing), we've been in our house for over a year now, and so much more has happened in the past twelve months.

This is my official "Goals for 2010" post.  Mostly, in the months to come I want to be able to check this post and see if I am keeping myself on track.  Hopefully, putting my goals out here for the world to see will keep me motivated.

Goal #1 - To read my Bible EVERY day, be it 5 minutes or an hour.  And not just to read it, but to actually give thought to what I read and apply it to my life and to share it with my family.

Goal #2 - To run a 10K on my 31st birthday in March.  That's 6.2 miles.  I've got two and a half months and a training program, now to get some stick-to-it-tiveness and get me behind in gear.  I know March is early in the year, so I will absolutely have more running goals throughout the year.

Those are my two big goals for 2010.  There are other lifestyle changes that I want to make, such as relaxing a little more and stressing less, leading my family in a healthier lifestyle and getting them to be more active, and making time to enjoy things.... my husband and kids, running, reading, cooking and so on.

My prayer today is that each and every one of you, my family, friends , and myself can look back on 2009 and give praise to God for his mercy and blessings.  And may we make the most of what He gives us in 2010, for His glory!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Recipe Recap - Sea Salted Smoked Almond Bark

This Christmas season I had the opportunity to get together with a few friends that I hadn't seen in quite a while.  This treat was was on the table and I kept going back for more.  I knew that I had to recreate it.  The combination of sweet, smoky and salty is wonderful.  It's incredibly easy to make.

Sea Salted Smoked Almond Bark  Adapted from Elles New England Kitchen

8 oz semi sweet chocolate
8 oz milk chocolate (you can by all means use all semi sweet chocolate if that is your preference)
1 1/2 cups smoked almonds - coarsely chopped (I used more)
1 tsp flaky sea salt (I used more)

Line 9 x 13 pan with wax paper.  Melt chocolates in double boiler or microwave.  If using the microwave, microwave on 50% power for one minute at a time until melted.  Stir in 1 cup of the almonds.  Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with remaining almonds.  Tap the pan several times to spread the chocolate and settle the nuts.  Sprinkle liberally with sea salt.  Chill for one hour or until firm.  Break into pieces.

* I added Craisins to some of mine and it was a hit!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Message from God.... through Dora the Explorer???

I have always believed that God speaks to us in a way that we will best understand and accept.  I think few people would be able to grasp the magnificence and meaning of a spoken word from God Himself.  Instead messages come through sermons, scripture, songs, friends.... and Dora the Explorer??  Maybe I've been a little stubborn lately, a little resistant to what He's been trying to tell me.  Maybe He finally decided to get down on my level.... and that seems to be a cartoon meant for a preschool audience.

It could be stress, it could be exhaustion, it could just be that I'm a little strange, but the episode of Dora that Tori was watching in my room this morning while I got ready for work really spoke to me.  We've watched it a hundred times on dvd, but it happened to be airing on tv this morning as well.

In this episode Dora is faced with a problem, a crisis even.  To resolve the crisis she has to overcome three obstacles and reach a goal.  How many times have we been in a similar situation.  How often does the solution to a crisis contain more than one obstacle or hurdle?  It makes it look like such a daunting and impossible mission.  Not to mention the evil one (in Dora's case, the witch) making the journey harder all along the way and just waiting for you to give up and give in.

As Dora overcomes each obstacle and completes each task she is given a magical tool that can be used at the next stop.  This is where the wheels in my head really started turning.  I was bothered that Dora was teaching children that there are magical tools that will just be handed to you.  Really, when was the last time someone handed you a bag of sunshine or a magical hair brush that would make your life easier?

Then it hit me.  I do have tools to conquer any crisis.  They don't necessarily come from friends and acquaintances, they come straight from God.  He has given us His Word to guide us, to use as a map.  The tool of prayer is a mighty one, a lifeline straight to God Himself.  His love, mercy, and grace can carry us through any obstacle.  Not over or around them, we will still have to endure them and overcome them.  But we never have to do it alone.

Dora's tools can only be used once.  She has to carefully choose when that time is.  Unlike Dora, the tools we are freely given never run out, their energy can never be exhausted.  No matter how many times we need it, God's grace can never be used up.  We are not given a set number of times we can call on God through prayer.  Everything He offers us is unending.

Have a blessed and wonderful day!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nutella Cake..... Oh my!

Flourless chocolate cake is one of my absolute favorite decadent, indulgent desserts.  And once you realize how simple they are to make at home you'll wonder why you've never made one before.  They are dense and dark.... and just BEG for a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

What could make this simple dessert better...NUTELLA!  What is Nutella, you ask?!?!  I highly recommend that you march right down to the nearest grocer and grab a jar and a spoon.  The chocolate-hazelnut spread can be found with the peanut butter and it wonderful on just about anything.

I made this recipe for a work pot luck and I must say, the addition of fine ground nuts and nutella made it so unbelievably yummy if you're a fan of rich chocolate desserts.

Nutella Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache

I could not find hazelnuts, so I used ground almonds and garnished the cake with white chocolate snowflakes sprinkled with decorator's sugar.

Adapted from Nigella Lawson


6 large eggs, separated

pinch salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 13-ounce container Nutellla

1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled


4 ounces whole hazelnuts

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter a 9-inch springform pan. In a large bowl (preferably metal), whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff. In another bowl, cream the butter and Nutella, then add the egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in melted chocolate.

Add a blob of beaten egg whites to the chocolate batter, and mix gently until well-combined. Fold in the remaining whites, one-third at a time, very gently but thoroughly. Pour into springform and bake for 40 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting tester, which should come out mostly clean; lightly pressing finger into top to check for a slight bouncing-back; and observing edges beginning to separate from pan. Let cool completely, in pan, on a rack.

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet, or toaster oven shaking them around frequently. Do it for about 4 minutes, or until they are lightly browned, then let cool completely. If hazelnuts came with skins on, put them in a towel after toasting and rub around; this will remove most of the skins.

Chop chocolate, and add to sauce pan with heavy cream over medium-low heat. Once chocolate is melted and components are combined, whisk until mixture reaches desired thickness, then cool. Remove rim of cake pan and pour cooled ganache over, spreading lightly to create a smooth, shiny surface, and apply hazelnuts all over.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So Far Behind! Playing catch up.

I've been a very bad blogger!  Things have been so absolutely crazy that I haven't posted anything in weeks.  So here is a catch up post on what's been happening so far in December.  I have some recipes to review and other stuff as well.  I'll get to working on those later this week.

It snowed in our area for the second year in a row!  We also set a record for the earliest snowfall and the lowest temperature.  It was great!  The kids got to play a while before it all started to melt away.

Tori also got to visit Santa.  She's been fascinated with him for weeks now and whenever we're at the mall she wants to see him, but she was also too scared to approach him or talk to him.  She finally worked up the courage to sit on his lap, and despite the look of apprehension on her face, she really liked him.

And last, but definitely not least, the girls and I got the tree put up and decorated while Troy was at work on night.  It's lovely... now I just need a free moment to wrap some gifts to put under it.

I hope everyone is having a relatively stress-free Christmas season so far.  Through it all I'm trying to keep my focus on the real reason to celebrate, the birth of our Savior!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tis the Season: Boodell-Blaker Bakeapalooza!

After Thanksgiving comes my all time favorite time of the year.  Christmas-time is here!  I love so much about this season.  The cold weather, the pretty lights, the family time, ansd especially the cooking.  Above all I love celebrating the birth of Jesus.  He really IS the reason for the season.

Saturday my sister and I got together for phase one of a ginormous Christmas goodie endeavor.  We're on a mission to fill ONE HUNDRED boxes with an assortment of nine different Christmas-time treats.

We each thought of several treats that we wanted to include.  Here are the final treats on our list.

Orea Truffles
Spice Cake Balls
Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
Fantasy Fudge
White Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
White Chocolate Chex Mix
Holiday Rice Crispy Treats
Pumpkin Bread

We started with the Oreo Truffles and Cake Balls because they freeze well.  We each prepared 400 of our designated type and had them ready to dip.  We spent more than six hours dipping more than EIGHT HUNDRED little balls into melted bark coating.  At the end of the day it was a success and the whole goodie box task doesn't seem so overwhelming.

This weekend it's time for fudge!  I'll be sure to post recipes and